Sunday, July 27, 2008

Turkey on the Grill

Yum. Smoked turkey on the grill. I made this for Thanksgiving a few years ago. A friend of mine who had been to several Thanksgivings that year said my turkey won. Woo-hoo! I won. I even had the last turkey of the day, when he should have been absolutely sick of turkey.
O.K. Here's how you do it. First, make sure you choose a turkey that fits on your grill. Small to medium turkeys are your best bet no matter how you are cooking your turkey. It's better to cook two small turkeys then one huge one. The huge one is much more likely to be dry before it's completely cooked. I have a small Weber grill. On my grill a medium size turkey fits fine. However, I like to choose one that is short from breast to back and wide from leg to leg. If it is long from breast to back there is a chance that it could hit the top of my grill. It's a weird thing to keep in mind while shopping...turkey shape. In the picture, I rubbed sage herb butter on the turkey in a attempt to make it even better. At some point the butter must have made the turkey catch on fire. The bottom of the turkey was totally charred. I don't think that was better after all. I plan on skipping that step in the future. Because of the apparent turkey fire, my turkey turned out a bit dry. It was still very good though. I had planned to have leftovers for future salads and sandwiches. I grilled this only yesterday. But, friends and family taste testers have almost cleaned me out of turkey already. I made carrots and potatoes to go with the turkey. With about 1/2 hour of the turkey cooking time left, add potatoes. I sliced my potatoes in half. Then I inserted a slice of onion, sage butter (or regular butter), and salt and pepper. I double wrapped the potatoes in foil. In a separate foil packet add sliced carrots, sage butter (or regular butter), and salt and pepper. When you take the turkey off the grill, leave the potatoes and add the carrot packet. They will finish cooking as your turkey rests. The potatoes are really good and get a bit of smokey flavor. They are almost like potatoes cooked on a campfire.



1 turkey (mine was 11 lbs)

2 gallons of water

2 C table salt

sage herb butter (only if you want to set your turkey on fire)


1. Rinse the defrosted turkey inside and out. Remove neck and giblets.

2. Dissolve salt in water and place turkey in the salt water and place in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours.


Place turkey in a 2 1/2 gallon Ziploc bag. Place that bag in a cooler. Mix 1/4 c salt with 1 quart of water until dissolved. Add the salt water to the turkey. Mix another 1/4 c salt with 1 quart water and add to turkey. Continue to do this until the turkey will be covered with water when the bag is closed. (about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 gallons water) Add ice around the outside of the Ziploc bag until the cooler is full. Place in a cool place for 4 to 6 hours. Why should I brine my turkey and what's a brine? Note- I added more ice after I too the picture. I didn't want the ice to obscure the turkey in the bag.

3. Soak as many wood chips as will fit in a disposable Weber grill pan. About 1 quart. Make sure they are completely covered with water. They only need to soak for about 1 hour, but it is a good idea to start the wood chips soaking as soon as you finish step two so you don't forget to do it. It makes no difference if they soak longer.

4. Obsessively clean your sink.

5. Drain wood chips and place in the disposable grill pan. Place pan over the front burner, put under the grill grates. Do this before you preheat the grill. O.K. Now you can preheat your grill. If you heat the grill first, you'll be sorry. It's the voice of experience.

6. Close all your windows near your grill so your house doesn't smell like smoke for days. This is also the voice of experience.

7. Drain turkey and pat dry. Pepper the chicken, but DO NOT SALT. The brine will make the turkey salty enough.

8. Place turkey in the center of the grill. Turn the burners down until the interior temperature of the grill is 375-400 degrees. Check the temperature often at the beginning of the grilling process to make sure you are grilling at the correct temperature. You can check it every once in a while after that. DO NOT OPEN THE LID OF THE GRILL. Every time you open the grill two things happen. First you lose smoke, and therefore lose flavor. Second, the grill temperature drops and it takes longer to grill the bird. If you must open your grill, be quick. Note- my turkey had a broken wing, so I couldn't bend both of the wings toward the bottom of the bird.

9. Roast the turkey. (times are for an unstuffed turkey cooked at 350 degrees)

6-8 lbs 1 1/4-2 hours

10-12 lbs 2-3 hours

14-18 lbs 3-4 hours

10. Clean kitchen obsessively. Realize that you could have cleaned you sink a little less obsessively before, because you just have to clean it again. Make sure you wash your cooler really, really well. Clean it with disinfectant or bleach. Make sure it is absolutely completely dry before you put it away. If you are concerned about disinfectant, let it dry. After it is really, really dry, you can rinse it out.

11. When your turkey is about a half hour from being done, add the potatoes. At this point your dog will be running around the grill and whining like he's completely lost his mind. What makes you think I'm grilling for you dog? Has it ever been for you? No. Just give is a rest already. Seriously. Knock off the crazy. You're driving me nuts.

12. When the thickest part of the turkey breast reaches 165 or the thickest part of the turkey thigh reaches 170-175 the turkey is done. Transfer it to a cutting board. Add your carrot foil packet to the grill if using. Tent the turkey loosely with tinfoil and let it rest 30 minutes. Why should I let it rest?

13. Now you can carve your turkey and eat it.

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